If you’re a music enthusiast, a very important decision is whether to buy open-back headphones. Isolation from outside noises can be difficult with open-back models. But these models also offer a more natural sound quality versus closed back designs. In this blog post, we’ll try to answer the question of whether using an open-back model will provide better results than its closed back counterpart.
Open-back headphones have very plush, perforated leather ear cups that don’t seal off the ears. The user experiences an open feeling soundstage. Because there is no isolation or bleeds over to other sounds in their environment. Closed-back headphones provide a better, more accurate soundstage in a studio setting. Though open-back headphones may sound a bit closer to the source.
Open-back headphones are also known as near-field monitors. Because they are generally used when you want to hear the mix in your head rather than from speakers. Whether you’re mixing from home on your computer or the road with a laptop in tow. Open-back headphones will give you a more accurate reflection of what’s going on in your mix. When people mix, they have the speakers set up at the far end of their room and turn them up high so they can hear it.
All-Important Features of Open-Back Headphones
As the name suggests, open-back headphones fully expose the speaker grille to the outside world, including ambient noise. It makes them ideal for noisy environments and helps you hear how quieter your mix is coming across in quieter moments. Another benefit of open-back headphones is the sound. Many listeners prefer an accurate, natural sound signature. And open-back headphones provide a more precise reproduction of what your ears can hear and not what your ears want to hear. It is because the diaphragm that creates the sound isn’t being reflected off anything before it reaches your ears. As it would be with closed-back headphones.
Noise isolation on open or closed-back headphones depends on how well they seal around the ear, and this varies from model to model. The more you seal off the ear, the less isolation you’ll get. Luckily, it is possible to get open-back headphones better for use in noisy environments because they are bass-heavy. It is known as bass boost, and it boosts up frequencies around 50 hertz to compensate for poor isolation.
There are many different types of open-back headphones to choose from. With the most popular being based on planar magnetic technology. Planar magnetic headphones have an aluminum diaphragm built into a thin metal shell. That allows the speakers to work with less distortion in quieter moments when there’s no room.
The All-Important Features That We Look For in Quality Open Back Headphones:
- Comfort: The main selling point of open-back headphones is that they sound great and offer a great listening experience. But if you can’t wear them for long periods, then what’s the point? It would be best if you chose a pair of open-back headphones that have a comfortable ear cup design. And an adjustable headband so you can fit them over your ears.
- Sound quality: High-quality sound is a must if you take your mixing to the next level. Open-back headphones offer a more authentic audio experience. Which means you’ll hear everything from the upper midst to the highs as they were intended to be heard.
- Bass: While many DJs have a love affair with bass, especially for dance tracks. Having a pair that boosts bass over the mid and high frequencies is the best way to take your mix to the next level. You can achieve that by adding a subwoofer or by using a digital equalizer. Properly mixing with an open-back pair of headphones will prevent you from mixing excessive bass. Because it will reflect what you hear in your head instead of what you hear through speakers.
Open Back Headphones to Get Your Hands on for Mixing
Sennheiser HD 429: The HD 429 is a pair of open-back headphones from Sennheiser used by many DJs and audio engineers. Its closed-back design seals the ear cups well, but it still lets you hear all the frequencies naturally.
If you’re going to take advantage of open-back headphones for mixing. You’re going to want a bass-heavy pair, and I suggest using a pair from Sennheiser. These guys have a proven track record in constructing quality open-back headphones. And they make some of the best out there. They produce rich bass with their planar magnetic technology. Which means they sound fantastic in quieter moments when there’s less ambient noise.
AKG Pro Audio K67: The K67’s have a sleek design that stands out from many open-back headphones. I use them regularly in my studio, and they have earned the nickname “the Cadillac”. Because they are so comfortable and don’t give me any pressure points from extended use for several hours at a time.
One thing that stands out about these headphones is the sound. They have a unique sound that’s hard to pin down because they have a smooth, accurate bass response. Again, the bass is the essential feature of open-back headphones for DJs. And you won’t be disappointed with the K67.
Behringer HA400: The Behringer HA400 is great for DJs needing a comfortable and affordable pair of open-back headphones. That don’t leak too much noise and aren’t too bulky to travel with. These headphones feature a closed-back design and a well-thought-out headband for portability. But they still come with all the features you need to get work done. The HA400 is great for mixing and has a digital equalizer and an in-line microphone for incoming calls.
Open-back headphones are better for mixing because they aren’t shielded. And that allows them to render better what you hear inside your head instead of what you make happen in the studio. The slight distortion will produce a more accurate audio image. And open-back headphones will provide a more accurate reflection of what’s going on in your mix.